Agility Trial Routines

I’m a rather routine, predictable person. I find routines comforting and reassuring. I like having plans. It’s harder to get lost, lose things and be forgetful when life is orchestrated with many patterns. It’s no surprise I have any number of patterns I tend to follow when it comes to agility trials. Everything from how things are packed in our car, to setting up or breaking down our crating space. And of course pre and post runs.

Tom looking at the camera hanging out in our crating area at a trial.  My husband’s feet as he sits in a chair next to Tom


Zora and I have what I call our Corgi Warm Up and Corgi Cool Down routines. She recognizes each phrase and the predictions of behavior it means. As I feel warm up and cool down is important with the canine athlete I thought I’d share our routines

Our Pre-Run Corgi Warm Up Routine

We have 2 types of corgi warm ups. One involving handling warm up and one involving stretching.

The handling warm up we do first thing of the day before the general briefing at the trial, and depending on the courses then set may or may not do it at other points before certain runs. During the handling warm up we find an open area, might be where the club has the practice equipment set up, might not, and we review various motions and cues. Switch, out, here, go, tight, wait, and so on. Get as in sync with each other as we can. If a particular course has a spot that looks rather tricky, we will practice the motions so that when we actually get on course there is a better (but not guaranteed as yesterday’s trial proved. LOL) chance I’ll handle it correctly. During our handling warm up I try to vary type and positions of rewards to further reinforce where on course I’d like Zora to be relative to me when we do that motion or cue once on the field.

The other warm up we do, this one we do before every single run, is our stretching warm up. Which includes portions for me and for Zora. We start off with some walking and trotting, then some moving in figure 8s to the left and the right. Next we do some leg, neck, tail and back stretches, and light muscle massage. From there we move to the ring as either we are first dog or last and there are now about 4 dogs to go. We jog to ring side for a bit faster movement. Once ring side we do some pivots, sit down stand position changes, hand touches, and turns to the left and right, working to ensure our muscles are warmed up before running the course.

By then it’s our turn, we walk to the line, Zora moves into her down, I cue her to “watch” which means look down the line my foot is pointing to show her where she’ll be going on the release. We get our “Good luck” cue to remove the leash from the judge. Leash off, I move to my starting position, and off we go!


Zora set up ready to run the agility course at a competition

Our warm up stretching routine usually takes about 3min. When we are first dog on the line, I have to time my walk through so I’m done with a minute left in the walk through. That way I have my 3 minutes as it’s usually about 2 min after the walk through ends to first dog, us.

Our Post-Run Corgi Cool Down Routine

Our Corgi Cool Down routine is similar to our warm up stretching routine, only done in reverse with an addition that makes Zora’s eyes sparkle. Aka Squeaky Ball. Squeaky ball doesn’t actually squeak. Maybe it does still now that I think about it. But Zora doesn’t squeak it. She holds it, carries it, and fetched it, no squeaking. She loves loves loves Squeaky Ball. It’s her special post trial run toy that she only gets now a days at agility trials. Oddly enough at home she likes it ok, but she loves it at trials. I think she’s associated it with trials hence it’s value there. At home she’d chose a tennis ball, at a trial she wants Squeaky Ball all the way. It’s a soft plush fluorescent orange or yellow (we have one of each so just depends which I happened to pull out of the bag) ball with a squeaker in it. Squeaky Ball is always part of our Corgi Cool Down routine.

We finish the course, the leash runner hands me Zora’s leash. I hold it out, Zora shoves her head into it, and we leave the ring together. Head on over to where we left our treats and Squeaky Ball ring side. She gets a couple of good girl treats then I say the magic words, “Let’s go play Squeaky Ball!” And she starts prancing. We jog together to the exit door or open area to play a little game of Squeaky Ball fetch. After our game, we do some body stretches, figure 8s, trotting, walking, light massage, Zora gets a drink and then quiet time until we do it all over again for the next run.

Zora and I exiting the ring after a run, Zora on leash looking at me as I’m cheering

Do you have a pre or post exercise routine? Please share, I’d love to hear them!

0 thoughts on “Agility Trial Routines

    1. No, more like what runners do before and after a jog or a race. Stretch each leg, neck, back, checking range of motion, we do a couple specific for illiopsoas as that is a common muscle to be injured in active and agility dogs, etc

      1. Are there any videos and such you recommend? I sometimes feel like stretches might be good for Brèagha, since she goes all out during exercise, runs like mad and sometimes goes tumbling head over heels in her crazy energy spurts. But I am afraid of hurting her.

        1. Toto Fit has many free resources on their website and youtube page. I don’t own any of their fit equipment, but the stretches they show can be done without their equipment. Also Dr Debbie Gross is a canine PT, she teaches some classes through Fenzi Dog Sports that I’ve taken at Bronze level and learned various exercises through. I’ve been to a couple of her local seminars over the years as well and picked up stretches to do at those.

        2. Warm up and cool down routines with safe stretches are really important for injury prevention and also so you can notice areas of discomfort faster and then get treatment hopefully before it becomes chronic. Dogs are often so good at hiding lower to moderate levels of discomfort, over the years with numerous dogs I’ve learned the value of a pre and post exercise routine for maintinance and prevention. Great that you are researching and learning more 🙂

  1. Katrin, This reminds me of our routine with our little toy poodle. She is blind and has only three legs, so our routine is very different. Mostly, our routine revolves around the “breakfast ritual”, where she gets hand fed a special breakfast of moistened food. She also enjoys her yard routine, which involves playing wolf. the squirrels enjoys that also, as they have learned that she can’t see them. So they go right on foraging for food in the back yard. Bridget (that’s her name), doesn’t mind, though. It gives her scents to track. She likes that a lot. Sounds like you have a very special relationship with Zora as well. Dogs (and pets in general) enrich our llves so very much, don’t you think?

    1. Bridget sounds like quite the fun character, I can just imagine her hunting squirrels nose to the ground! Pets do certainly enrich our lives. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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